Daily Revolt

December 23, 2007

Andrew Sullivan: Bush is a War Criminal

This is a blockbuster article coming from a major conservative blogger/columnist:
Zubaydah was waterboarded. That much we know - it was confirmed recently by a former CIA agent, John Kiriakou, who even used the plain English word “torture” to describe what was done. But we know little else for sure. We do know there was deep division within the American government about Zubaydah’s interrogation, and considerable debate about his reliability.

Ron Suskind’s masterful 2006 book The One Percent Doctrine recorded FBI sources as saying that Zubaydah was in fact mentally unstable and tangential to Al-Qaeda’s plots, and that he gave reams of unfounded information under torture - information that led law-enforcement bodies in the US to raise terror alert levels, rushing marshals and police to shopping malls, bridges and other alleged targets as Zubaydah tried to get the torture to stop. No one disputes that Zubaydah wrote a diary - and that it was written in the words of three personalities, none of them his own.

[...]And that is where the story becomes interesting. The Bush administration denies any illegality at all, insists it does not “torture” but refuses to say whether it believes waterboarding is torture or not. But hundreds of hours of videotape were recorded of Zubaydah’s incarceration and torture. That evidence would settle the dispute over the extremely serious question of whether the president of the United States authorised war crimes.

And now we have found out that all the tapes have been destroyed.

[...]At a press conference last Thursday the president gave an equivocal response to what he knew about the tapes and when he knew it: “The first recollection is when CIA director Mike Hayden briefed me.” That briefing was earlier this month. The president is saying he cannot recall something - not that it didn’t happen. That’s the formulation all lawyers tell their clients to use when they need to avoid an exposable lie.

[...]The administration has admitted that several prisoners have been killed in interrogation, and dozens more have died in the secret network of interrogation sites the US has set up across the world. The policy of rendition has sent countless suspects into torture cells in Uzbekistan, Egypt, Jordan and elsewhere to feed the West’s intelligence on jihadist terrorism.

But this case is more ominous for the administration because it presents a core example of what seems to be a cover-up, obstruction of justice and a direct connection between torture and the president, the vice-president and their closest aides.

[...]Any reasonable person examining all the evidence we have - without any bias - would conclude that the overwhelming likelihood is that the president of the United States authorised illegal torture of a prisoner and that the evidence of the crime was subsequently illegally destroyed.

Congresswoman Jane Harman, the respected top Democrat on the House intelligence committee in 2003-06, put it as simply as she could: “I am worried. It smells like the cover-up of the cover-up.”

It’s a potential Watergate. But this time the crime is not a two-bit domestic burglary. It’s a war crime that reaches into the very heart of the Oval Office.

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